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Tax credits boost public housing in 3 area communities

| Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 1:25 p.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Crews work on a parking area that will be part of Yester Square in Crawford Village, where 58 units will be built utilizing state housing tax credits.

Tax credits will boost public housing in McKeesport, Homestead and Duquesne.

In McKeesport, $1.2 million in Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency credits is to be leveraged into $10 million for 58 units in the Yester Square area of Crawford Village.

“We'll basically sell them to an investor,” McKeesport Housing Authority executive director Stephen Bucklew said on Monday. “Usually a lot of banks buy these tax credits. They can use them toward their corporate tax returns.”

In Homestead, officials expect similar results for $1.19 million in credits toward the multi-phased ONE Homestead development along Eighth Avenue, and Amity Street between Ninth and Eleventh avenues.

“The project brings new affordable housing to the community and will generate pedestrian activity and business opportunity,” Homestead's state Sen. Jay Costa Jr., D-Forest Hills, said.

“The PHFA tax credits will leverage more than $10 million in private investment and help complete the financing for the $13 million project,” Costa said.

Allegheny County will provide $1.7 million. The state Department of Community and Economic Development provided $500,000.

In Duquesne, $1.15 million in credits will aid Ralph A. Falbo Inc. and Pennrose Properties with 44 units along Catherine and High streets in a 5.1-acre tract that formerly was part of Burns Heights.

One hundred seventy four townhouse units were built there in the 1940s, then demolished in 2009 to make way for 22 structures with 44 housing units.

Falbo filed an application for housing agency tax credits in partnership with the Allegheny County Housing Authority.

“(Falbo's) expertise is well known,” said Tim Joyce, chief of staff to state Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport.

Twenty projects across hte state were approved last week, providing a total of $19.5 million in tax credits.

“Any project that is submitted to the (PHFA) has to meet a lot of steps,” Joyce said. “There is a lot of competition and each project is ranked in numerical order and funded in order of their rankings.”

“It is very competitive,” the McKeesport authority's Bucklew said. “Only one in five applications are granted. We've applied for the past four times and were denied the first three times.”

The 58 Yester Square units are across the street from 10 that are nearly done, covered by funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“When you demolish a public housing unit, HUD gives you replacement factor funds to build a new one,” Bucklew said.

Over the years, McKeesport Housing Authority has seen its inventory drop from 1,214 units to about 900 units.

The new Yester Square housing includes parking space, which wasn't considered when Crawford Village was built.

“There were a few curbside parking spaces,” the authority's property manager Phil Williams said.

Costa said the ONE Homestead project is part of a coordinated community revitalization involving the county and the borough.

The developer for the 51-unit project is A.M. Rodriguez Associates, which built developments in Munhall, White Oak and Duquesne.

It includes townhomes along Amity Street, redevelopment of the old post office along Amity and Ninth Avenue into loft apartments, and a 30-unit apartment building along Eighth Avenue.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967. or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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